It is not a good idea to put too much stress too soon on your new hip joint, however, it is important to begin specific exercises as advised by your doctor as soon as possible after your hip replacement and these exercises can be done long term. Sitting for long periods is not good as this may cause further muscle weakness, stiffness and pain, even though you feel you are resting and recovering – gentle, functional exercises are far more beneficial from the start. For example, slowly rotating and moving your foot up and down will help improve circulation and prevent blood clots from forming, and can be done almost immediately after surgery. There are plenty of exercises your doctor will advise that can be done sitting or lying down initially to get movement back into your joint without causing any stress to your new hip, and that will suit as hip replacement exercises long term.
Obviously, your fitness level before your hip total replacement surgery will have an impact on what, and how much you will be able to do post-surgery, but walking is considered one of the best, low-impact hip replacement recovery exercises people can do, and with regards to your hip replacement it is a gentle exercise that promotes hip movement so walking is an all-round winner! You will be encouraged to start walking as soon as possible, using walking aids like crutches or a frame if necessary, and your therapist will advise you on how much weight to bear. As your muscle strength and endurance improve you will spend more time walking, and be able to put more weight on your leg, and you can progress to stair climbing and descending. Generally you should not walk for fitness until 6 weeks post surgery. You should do no more than 500m-1km at a time until then.
Hip Replacement Recovery Exercises Back To “Normal”?
Back to “normal” usually means how you were before the surgery, but you do not want to return to this state because before the surgery you had hip problems that probably caused you pain, restricted movement and muscle-related tightness and weakness around your hip joint. Your muscles will take time to recondition and get used to a new hip that now moves freely, so you must be patient as it can take many months to make a full recovery after a hip replacement. But persistence will pay off and you will end up better than the “normal” you had become used to before your surgery.
What Sports Will I Be Able To Do After Hip Surgery?
Generally, high-impact sports like rugby, martial arts and football that carry a high risk of impact and falling are discouraged after hip replacements, but for the majority of us this won’t be a problem – we would probably prefer to watch them on the television anyway!
This doesn’t mean you can’t lead a full and active life though, and low-impact sports like swimming, cycling and hiking are all great to do for your general health and your new hip too.
Cycling as a hip replacement exercise long term will definitely aid your recovery by strengthening the muscles and flexibility in your hips and thighs, so even if you didn’t cycle before your op, consider starting on a stationary bike and progressing from there.
Swimming is great for all-round fitness (avoid the breaststroke kick initially though) and hydro-therapy is a great hip replacement recovery exercise therapy because of the resistance water causes during movement. Water aerobics is a great way to improve cardio fitness and tone muscles without the usual high impact of a dry class.
It is important to keep up activity levels even after a full recovery, and walking and hiking are freely available anytime for everyone, so lace up your boots and off you go!
Arranging a Consultation with our Hip Specialist Surgeon
Dr Slattery is a specialist in complex knee, pelvic and hip surgery with experience in multiple different kinds of joint replacement and treatment. His experience as a hip surgeon in this area extends to including total hip replacement, robotic hip replacement, hip arthroscopy and hip resurfacing.
Centred on his patient’s needs, Dr Slattery believes in tailoring treatments suited to each individual. During your hip treatment consultation, at any one of his three Melbourne consulting rooms, you will be guided through the process while being informed of any risks that may be involved with the procedure.
To arrange a consultation with Dr Slattery, please contact his office by calling (03) 5752 5020. Otherwise, please make an appointment through our online contact form.